Under the agreement, professors will be free to experiment with and improve upon the blended learning model, which the company says has been proven to enhance classroom participation.
Andrew Ng, cofounder of Coursera, says the company is constantly tweaking its courses to encourage student engagement.
Through collecting data from their many customers, the company has learned that it's the little things, such as sending a homework reminder with a positive spin or allowing students to complete course work in the order they choose, that leads to higher completion rates. Students are also more apt to complete a course they paid for, he says.
[Discover how MOOCs will change higher ed.]
Although MOOCs with an on-campus component are becoming more interactive, the more traditional MOOCs – the courses open to thousands of students – are still struggling with student engagement.
Frank Mulgrew, president of Post University's Online Education Institute, took two MOOCs from well-known providers within the last year to learn more about the courses.
While he enjoyed the classes, he says he was shocked by the lack of any interaction with the professor and teaching assistants. Students posted to a discussion board, he says, but there were so many unregulated comments that it was hard to carry on a meaningful conversation.
"MOOCs are certainly welcome to the online education landscape," he says. "But they have their limitations. For most students, and especially for adult learners, there is a lot of need for that interaction with faculty and engagement with other students."
Ideally, the MOOC software could help personalize instruction for students, tailoring lessons to suit a person's strengths and weaknesses.
But the technology isn't quite there yet, says Jeff Borden, vice president of instruction and academic strategy for Pearson, an education services provider.
"I believe it will happen in a decade," he says. "We're not there yet."
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